When it comes to biopics about stand-up comedians, there are only a few that would actually make any sense, and Richard Pryor stands to be the most sensible option. (Though Bill Hicks is right behind him, trying to not catch on fire.) But just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it’s an easy task. The long-gestating Pryor pic gained ground some months back once Forest Whitaker attached himself as a producer, and now The Weinstein Company may have found just the high profile director they want in Lee Daniels, who is currently in talks to take over what will assumedly be titled Lee Daniels’ The Richard Pryor.
The Weinsteins were behind Lee Daniels’ The Butler, fighting for it during that awkward legal suit over the film’s title. Allowing the heavy hand of Daniels to handle the tumultuous events in Pryor’s life is seemingly controversial in and of itself, as one never knows whether they’ll get the Precious Daniels or the Paperboy Daniels. Maybe Nicole Kidman can star as the person who pees on Pryor after he set himself on fire while freebasing. It’s just a thought.
And while the role of director is undoubtedly an important piece of this puzzle, the real kicker is going to be hiring the right actor to imbue the right amount of frankness and legitimacy within the role of the legendary comic. The three actors currently being considered are no surprises. THR reports the frontrunners are Eddie Murphy – who has been rabid for this role for years – Marlon Wayans, and Michael B. Jordan, who recently delivered a winning performance in TWC’s otherwise ordinary tragi-drama Fruitvale Station. Wayans is apparently just the right age for the role, as the film will center on Pryor during the heyday of his 30s, but Jordan’s superior talents as an actor may win him the part, which means we’ll get a lot of terrible-looking age makeup.
But seriously, I’d rather see some terrible-looking younger age makeup slapped on Murphy, because this is obviously the role the man has been destined to play for decades. Hear him tell it himself in the NSFW clip from Raw below.
While any biopic about such a talented and clever performer would be an interesting watch, this still-untitled project has Richard’s widow Jennifer Pryor on board as a producer, and she supplied TWC with over 50 pages of Pryor’s journals, which will certainly add a personal touch that would be impossible to duplicate. There’s nobody out there like Richard Pryor, and if Daniels does indeed head this film, I hope he remembers that.
Of course, if they wanted to make a fully fictional film where they set Pryor as the President of the United States, I’m all about that, too. Oh wait, he already did that.